A baby gurgles at you, and
you say: “Hello there.”
He smiles and you smile. He laughs
and you laugh back.
This is serve and return.
Children and adults have had these
kinds of interactions for as long as
there have been adults and children.
More recently, research has found
just how important serve and return
is to children: it is the building block
of brain architecture, the mortar
of relationships and the wiring for
language, social skills and emotional
control. It’s big.
Serve and return is like a game
of tennis or volleyball. A child
begins with a gesture or sound—the
serve—and a caring, familiar adult
in his life (mother, father, aunt, uncle,
grandparent, childcare professional,
teacher or coach) responds sensitively
with the “return.”
Plus the mortar
of relationships and the
wiring for other skills
Serve and return:
The building block
of brain architecture